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Dan Navarro has a new album out Shed My Skin (Red Hen). Produced by Steve Postell, it features a core band with the recently departed David Glaser, Phil Parlapiano, Jon Ossman, Brendan Buckley, Debra Dobkin, Joel Tepp and Aubrey Richmond; plus a host of other musicians contributing on a song or two.
We haven’t seen a new album by Dan Navarro in a while; but this one bolts out strong right out of the gate, in a race to the heart of your genuine emotions. Title track “Shed My Skin,” pure and simple, is going to bring you to tears, and this is what Dan Navarro has been doing so adeptly since back when he was with Eric Lowen in Lowen & Navarro. (There is no way to listen to “Crossing Over” from Pendulum without completely dissolving into a puddle.) He reminds us that “on the inside of the bubble we see what we choose to see,” with gentle tones, gentle banjo, gentle harmonica, and gentle fingers on those easy acoustic strings.
The album extends Navarro’s catalog while continuing in the same signature style his fans admire. Navarro has a knack for rocking your heartstrings with his fluid acoustic licks and familiar sounding vocals and Shed My Skin showcases that all the way.
“Night Full of Rain” is about struggle that lasts into the night, with “love’s a golden chain that ties me to you” signaling everything will work out when dawn breaks. But there’s “a lock and chain around your bulletproof heart” in the next one, “Bulletproof Heart,” which we hope he can melt. “Straight to the Heart of Me” reveals some real emotional maturity with lines like “there is no solution, but I have no fear, because regret is too easy, and redemption is free, so I leave the door open, straight to the heart of me.”
Navarro’s duet with Janiva Magness, “You Drove Me Crazy,” is a prison love story done Spanish style with Navarro’s friendly clear vocal tones enticingly mingling with Magness’ rich lower tones.
“Ghosts” features another set of Navarro’s musician friends: Danny Kortchmar, Leland Sklar, Dennis Edwards, and Peter Adams for an easy shuffle song with notable organ. “New Years Day” is Brother Sun, Butch Norton, Bob Malone, and Freebo; and the profound: “we don’t have to swim forever, just ’til we get to the other side.”
Navarro’s interpretation of Billy Idol’s “Sweet Sixteen” brings a degree of somber darkness that’s true to the song, with Grace Pettis’ haunting harmonies and dobro by Doug Cox. “Arrow” again reveals Navarro’s considerable ability to ease the listener’s pain “have no fear, I’m standing right here…” with his intangibly comforting vocals.
The album closer, Jimmy Webb’s “Wichita Lineman,” evoking Glenn Campbell, leaves us once more on a poignant note about the fleeting nature of life. It’s an enticing, enchanting collection.